“He’s a good editor. Maybe he’s a great editor.” — Raymond Carver on Gordon Lish

We continue to raid The Paris Review’s vault of interviews. Here’s Raymond Carver on Gordon Lish–

INTERVIEWER: Where does Gordon Lish enter into this? I know he’s your editor at Knopf.

CARVER: Just as he was the editor who began publishing my stories at Esquire back in the early 1970s. But we had a friendship that went back before that time, back to 1967 or 1968, in Palo Alto. He was working for a textbook publishing firm right across the street from the firm where I worked. The one that fired me. He didn’t keep any regular office hours. He did most of his work for the company at home. At least once a week he’d ask me over to his place for lunch. He wouldn’t eat anything himself, he’d just cook something for me and then hover around the table watching me eat. It made me nervous, as you might imagine. I’d always wind up leaving something on my plate, and he’d always wind up eating it. Said it had to do with the way he was brought up. This is not an isolated example. He still does things like that. He’ll take me to lunch now and won’t order anything for himself except a drink and then he’ll eat up whatever I leave in my plate! I saw him do it once in the Russian Tea Room. There were four of us for dinner, and after the food came he watched us eat. When he saw we were going to leave food on our plates, he cleaned it right up. Aside from this craziness, which is more funny than anything, he’s remarkably smart and sensitive to the needs of a manuscript. He’s a good editor. Maybe he’s a great editor. All I know for sure is that he’s my editor and my friend, and I’m glad on both counts.

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